By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
On the track, Brittney Zamora is one of the top racing talents from the Northwest. Off the track, education highlights her sheer determination and selfless care of others.
The Kennewick, Washington native wrapped up her first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West campaign with Bill McAnally Racing, scoring two poles and two-third place finishes in 14 starts.
It only took four rounds into the season where Zamora made a name for herself during the second Tucson race where she led the field to the green flag after being the fastest driver in the first race, leading 26 laps along the way.
From that point on, Zamora’s fellow competitors amicably understood where she came from.
“Tucson back in May was kind of like the race that I showed everybody, ‘I’m here. I’m competitive and I can compete for wins,’” Zamora told Motorsports Tribune at Phoenix. “We got pole for the second race and then led a ton of laps there. I ended up finishing in the podium and that’s kind of showing everybody like, ‘Hey, I can do this.’
“Moving on to a few other races, I don’t think I ever feel like I was truly disrespected in the series but I feel like people had a good idea of where I came from in my resume and what I’ve done in racing, and they kind of use that throughout the season to get a feeling for my driving style and stuff.”
Three months later, Zamora’s second pole was at her home circuit at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, leading 45 laps before eventual race winner Trevor Huddleston got by her.
Zamora eventually fell back to fifth before the break, but the No. 99 team made proper adjustments and rallied back to finish third.
“It was all good driving,” Zamora on her race at Evergreen. “Me in the car were out there doing what we were supposed to do, and I feel like there’s each little step like that, whether it’s the little things or the big things. Each race we’ve proven why we’re here.”
While those races were tremendous highs, Zamora also had crushing blows. An electrical problem at Sonoma and two engine failures at Gateway (one in qualifying and one during the race) kept her from challenging third-generation racer Jagger Jones for Rookie of the Year.
Zamora ended up fifth in points, beating Todd Souza by four points after a grueling yet no-quit drive at ISM Raceway, where she finished sixth.
Finished P6 in Phoenix! Came back from losing wheel weights/a bad vibration, losing breaks & having ignition box issues, which all put me at one point 19th/2 laps down. A lot of work was done in the last 50 laps. THANK YOU @ToyotaRacing @NAPARacing @BMR_NASCAR @ENEOSUSA pic.twitter.com/UFlX10Zoz9
— Brittney Zamora (@Brittneyz52) November 12, 2019
Looking back, Zamora said it was a pretty good season after going through drastic transitions such as adapting to the rigorous schedule, learning the NASCAR rules and knowing her new crew, cars, tracks, and style of racing.
“Every aspect was so new to me this year that it took an adjusting period,” Zamora said. “But I think that it was a reasonable amount of time. I think we actually got it over quicker than I expected. We got the poles, podiums and top-fives. I think we had a great season.
“It’s just being a racer that you want more. You go out there and win the race and you’re still ‘okay, what I could’ve done better.’”
Additionally, Zamora’s teammates were the focused series champion Derek Kraus and the polarizing three-time series winner Hailie Deegan.
There are similarities between Zamora and Kraus due to their competitive nature, knowing its every person for themselves when they hit the bullrings and national venues. At the same time, there is a sign of respect between them.
After Zamora won the pole at Evergreen, Kraus congratulated her but before he did that, he would interrupt the pole interview by covering the microphone.
“He’s got a pretty good sense of humor,” Zamora said. “What’s cool about him is that we’re very similar because we’re very competitive. We’re out there for ourselves. We want to win and do the best that we can. But when it comes down to it – stuff like that we respect each other.
“It was really cool for him to come over and kind of acknowledge my first pole of the season and shake his hand. He didn’t have to do that, but it was cool to get that recognition and respect and have that good relationship as a teammate.”
Although Zamora and Deegan are the only full-time female racers and teammates in K&N West, their driving styles are extreme opposites. Unlike Deegan, whose three victories involved bump-and-runs symbolizes her aggressive driving, Zamora’s method is more respectable and high-quality clean racing.
“I’m not going to go and just dump you, just to dump you,” Zamora said. “I get more gratitude from setting you up clean like kind of evaluating your driving style and seeing where I’m better than you and setting up for a pass. That’s harder to do than just going out there and dumping.
“Dumping you can go out in the corner and use someone as your brakes, and then they’re done. They’re out of your way, but to be able to use your skills as a driver and pass them cleanly. The fans want to see that, they want to see good clean racing. I think it helps earn ton of respect for me on the track, but there’s also comes to a point where you mess with me, then I’ll mess with you back.
“You got to stand up for yourself, you can let people push you around out there. I go out there with the mindset that clean driving is the best driving. Rubbing is racing, I get there’s rubbing, and I’ll do that but the cleaner, the better.”
Prior of making the jump on NASCAR’s regional tour, the 20-year-old scored two consecutive Northwest Super Late Model championships, competing at tracks such as Evergreen and Wenatchee.
Winning those titles proved the Evergreen State native that her way towards regional stardom wasn’t a fluke.
“To even win a race out there in the Northwest, you have to be doing something right,” Zamora said. “We got some really stout competition. You have Garrett Evans – a lot of people know him, and we’ve beat him in a few races. We’ve won at his track before and got the tour championship. He kind of runs the series and stuff, we got that championship and to do it two years in a row was really special.
“We’ve earned the first year, we’ve earned the second year and earned each win that we had out there. I’ve been doing that in every series that I’ve been racing since I started when I was four. We’re making those progress and starting check off the list and we’re almost there. We just got to keep doing that in the K&N series.”
In a time period where drivers such as Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw) retired last year and Greg Biffle (Vancouver) only making one NASCAR start since 2016, Zamora hopes people recognizes the type of racing occurring in the Northwest. To the point that someday, she can become the area’s flag bearer.
“West coast is kind of sometimes forgotten about. Especially, little Washington up there in the corner,” Zamora said. “Not a lot of people know about it, so to have (Biffle and Kahne), you know kind of got there and say, ‘Hey, it doesn’t really matter where you’re from, you can make it.’ As long as you got to the talent, sponsorship and all the aspects of it.
“Growing up in the Northwest, it was really cool. There are amazing tracks out there. Evergreen is a really cool track to get up and learn and start making your way towards the big tracks. I think that being a 5/8 (mile) really helps me, trying to convert to those 3/4s and then Iowa, New Hampshire and Phoenix. It’s a really good steppingstone getting to those tracks and out here. Hopefully, I can be on that list of big names from Washington.”
When she isn’t strapping her helmet and climb aboard her No. 99 ENEOS/NAPA Filters Toyota Camry or the black and green No. 52 super late model, Zamora is currently a full-time online student at Washington State University, allowing her to run full-time in the K&N West.
“It’s pretty hectic trying to balance social life, sponsor events, racing, school, family and all that stuff,” Zamora said. “I’m going for a Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, so I figured what better subject to major in versus like something that kind of relates to NASCAR. It’s important to me and always good to have a backup plan.”
Zamora has stayed close with her community such as doing work with the Children’s Hospital throughout the season, putting on events and giving out K&N souvenirs like coloring books, stickers, flags and hero cards.
“It gets their minds off everything that they’re going on in life,” Zamora said. “Have some fun, talk racing and invite them out to the races. I actually got to see a few of them at the races, so it’s really cool. I’m here to race and here to win, but to be able to use my platform in positive ways off the track is really special to me.”
Zamora has also done bag pack fundraisers that are distributed across the state of Washington. Those bag packs are filled with school supplies that it becomes hard to shut because it gets rapidly full.
105 backpacks successfully delivered to several locations of The Boys and Girls Club, just in time for the first day of school!
Thank you so much to everyone who helped with donations, it means so much to not only myself but to every student who able to receive a backpack! pic.twitter.com/fUnRdoQlr3
— Brittney Zamora (@Brittneyz52) August 26, 2019
“That’s something really special to me,” Zamora said. “It was so cool to go to the Boys and Girls Clubs and go across the state of Washington and give them to the students in need. It’s something so little on my end, but it helps them out so much. It’s really cool to be able to that kind of stuff.”
What’s the future for Zamora?
Time will tell but her goal for 2020 is to run in the ARCA Menards Series.
As far as which ARCA division it’ll be? Those plans are still being finalized.
Although she’ll be waiting, Zamora is confident she’ll have new opportunities and continuing proving her worth after having a respectable season.
“Nothing’s official right now but you know, the more the better,” Zamora said. “Get more seat time and more experience, the better you’ll improve as a driver. ARCA is the goal. Not sure what series or how many races what we’re doing there but that’s the goal.”